Sharansky to reveal full Western Wall plan in two weeks

Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky is expected to release his full plan for a compromise among religious groups at the Western Wall within two weeks.

Sharansky, according to the Israeli daily Haaretz, aims to release the plan before the end of August. Upon announcing the release plans, he said “if we have an agreement on a solution for the future, that can help bring us closer to a compromise in the interim.”

Under Sharansky’s plan, first reported in April, an existing egalitarian section of the wall known as Robinson’s Arch would be expanded and a unified entrance would be built leading to the wall’s traditional and egalitarian sections. Robinson’s Arch would be open at all times; at present it is open for a few hours per day.

The expanded section for egalitarian prayer would be run by a joint commission of the Israeli government, the Jewish Agency and representatives of world Jewry. The Western Wall Heritage Foundation, which runs the Western Wall Plaza, would continue to run the traditional section.

Protests over the high-profile arrests of female worshippers at the holy site led Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu late last year to tap Sharansky to formulate a compromise solution.

The months since Sharansky introduced the plan have seen increased haredi Orthodox protests of Women of the Wall, a group that organizes a women’s service at the wall at the beginning of each Jewish month. — jta